How To Make Clear Ice at Home

You've seen it by now - clear ice, crystal clear ice, ice rocks, pond ice, the holy grail of ice -- we all love the beautiful illusions, the bare reflections, the looking-glass clarity and almost-not-there effects of a big ass clear ice cube chilling down a cocktail in our rocks glass. 

 

If bars and restaurants get fancy with clear ice, it often comes from a giant block of ice that is broken down using saws and chisels.  Some restaurant groups have entire ice programs devoted to keeping them in supply, while others contract with ice companies who deliver the goods. 

Some bartenders take their ice very seriously, and continue to carve it into spheres or other shapes (very popular in Japan).  Here's an impressive demonstration by Hidetsugu Ueno:

And of course, as the clear ice craze has made its way into the home bartending scene, there have been many, many new products created for helping you achieve crystalline perfection. We've tried a few, and while some work (and others don't), we find we have a bigger appetite for clear ice when we do decide to make it, and producing one or two clear chunks at a time just doesn't cut it.  

Thankfully there have been some pioneers in the clear-ice-at-home movement that have done extensive testing and experimenting, the foremost being Camper English of Alcademics, who has a whole treasure trove of blog posts devoted to his ice experiments.  Our favorite methods produce a good quantity of ice for relatively little expense - here are our top two for making some fancy-ass ice at home:

For both methods:

  • Use distilled water - it has less impurities than tap water!
  • If you can adjust your freezer temperature without compromising food contents, set it to a higher cool temperature (or, LOW COOL on your freezer).  The goal here is to get the water in the cooler to freeze slowly from the top down, like pond ice. (Food safety guidelines say your freezer should be set at 0° F or -18° C. If you're not storing food, you could set the temperature higher than 0° F.  Just try not to set it at sub-zero temperatures like -10°  F.) In other words, the colder the temperature, the faster the freeze, and the less clear your ice will be!

The Cooler Method for Making Clear Ice

  • Fill a small, clean, hard-sided insulated plastic cooler with distilled water.
  • This part is important:  Take the lid of the cooler OFF, so that the surface of the water is exposed to the air in the freezer.  Put it in the freezer.
  • Wait.  Depending on the size of cooler you're using, and your temperature settings, it could take a few days to freeze all the way, so plan ahead. (If you let the water freeze all the way solid, its possible the cooler can crack!  One option is to check on it every day, and when about 75% of the ice has frozen, remove the ice block that has formed so far from the surface of the unfrozen water.  If you let the block freeze all the way through, the bottom 25% or so will be cloudy, so this just cuts your time down and leaves the to-be-cloudy portion unfrozen.
  • Take the cooler out of the freezer, and let it sit at room temperature until you can extract the ice from the cooler.  This could take some time, anywhere from 20 - 45 minutes.
  • When you've got your solid block of ice free, you're ready to render it down into smaller pieces. You may have to let it sit out at room temperature some more; if the ice is too cold, it could shatter a lot when you're cutting it.  Let the ice block sit until the surface is shiny and starting to sweat.
  • To cut the ice, use a serrated blade to score around the block at the width of your first desired cut. Be sure to score all the way around the block, drawing a line where you want the ice to break apart.  Use a chisel and hammer right on the scored line to break the ice, which should follow the score line and calve off a nice big block.  
  • First cut off any cloudy areas - you can cut these down and use them for shaking or stirring ice. Continue to score and use the chisel to break down the larger block into smaller blocks, ice rocks, and cubes.

The Cube Method for Making Clear Ice

  • Procure some silicone ice cube trays in the size you prefer
  • Punch or cut holes in the bottom of the trays
  • In a deep tray (we used bread loaf pans), elevate the ice cube tray about 1" above the bottom using whatever you can. Ideally the support will allow water to flow freely - we stack a few metal trivets on the bottom and put the ice trays on top.
  • Put the whole thing in the freezer, and wait until the water in the trays has frozen all the way through.  Then you can take them out, and let it rest at room temperature until the ice cube trays can be separated from the rest of the block of ice.  You should have clear, already shaped square cubes ready to use from the trays!

 

Clear Ice for Craft Cocktails Standard Spoon Bar Tools

Ready to take the Clear Ice Challenge?  Try your hand at making some at home, and tag us on Instagram @standardspoon #clearice!

Standard Spoon at Amazon.com + Production Update

Via Update #27 on Kickstarter:

Hi Backers & Friends,

We hope you all have been enjoying your spoons, stirring up many great cocktails this summer and fall!  After we fulfilled orders to backers earlier this year, our work didn't end. We had received just enough spoons from the factory to fulfill Kickstarter pledges and pre-orders, with a very small amount of inventory remaining to offer for sale. 

New Inventory:

Just this past month we received the second half of our original shipment, which has given us the go-ahead to get more word out about the spoons, now that we have a good amount of inventory to sell!  We've also added a few companion products to the website.  We have some of the last copies in stock of Dave Stolte's Home Bar Basics cocktail manual (won't be available again until summer!). 

We also have those great square ice cube trays by Tovolo, which we personally use to make good stirring and serving ice, and highly recommend. And lastly we've added some locally-made solid wood maple muddlers as a special side add-on for the upcoming holidays.

1" Ice Cube Trays ($15), 2" King Cube Tray ($10), Solid Wood Maple Muddler ($15)

1" Ice Cube Trays ($15), 2" King Cube Tray ($10), Solid Wood Maple Muddler ($15)

Give Spoons for the Holidays:

BUY AT STANDARDSPOON.COM: Use Coupon Code GIVETHANKS for 15% off the purchase of either of our cocktail spoons (effective November 27-30, 2015)

BUY AT AMAZON.COM: We're now listed on Amazon, and both spoons qualify for Free 2-Day shipping for Amazon Prime members, and Free Standard Shipping for everyone else. 

Legit Cocktail Spoons make Awesome Holiday Gifts!

Legit Cocktail Spoons make Awesome Holiday Gifts!

Story Time: Production Update 

Interested in what we've been up to for the last 5 months? Settle in (seriously, go make yourself a tonic) and read on:

One of the reasons it took so long for us to receive this last shipment is that we needed to have many conversations with the factory, and revise our Quality Assurance documents over the summer.  A high proportion of that first batch of spoons didn't make it past our own quality inspections - you backers got the best of the best, which is why we didn't have many left over to sell.  Let's just say that since we've got pretty high standards, we've got a pretty good-sized box of unsellable spoons collecting dust. 

We weren't able to move forward with manufacturing long term with that level of waste, so we went back to the factory with our feedback, extensively documenting and refining our Quality Assurance plan, and requesting revisions for the next shipment of spoons.  After receiving a small sample shipment of about 60 spoons in June, we reviewed and revised again.  With the last batch we received in October, we're confident we've arrived at as close to our original vision as we can get; the spoons are beautiful, consistent, and extremely strong. 

Wingman Cocktail Spoon being boxed up

Wingman Cocktail Spoon being boxed up

We recently received a message from one of our backers, Jon, who was curious about the construction of the spoons.  Manufacturing methods have always been something we've been straightforward about, and while we spent most of our summer working on revisions (and considering some alternatives), it wasn't until a few weeks ago that we've been able to finally arrive at our long term plan for manufacturing the spoons.

So if you're curious about getting into the nitty gritty with us, here's the (lengthy) response I sent to Jon about investment casting (our original plan) v. other alternatives, and the twists and turns, pros and cons, and cost-benefit decisions that are made behind the scenes in product development.

Hi Jon,

Thanks for your message this week, it's always great to hear from our backers! I'm especially appreciative of you taking the time to write, as you bring up a subject (manufacturing method) that we've been working on tirelessly behind the scenes, but realized we haven't addressed definitively online or in communication to backers. I hope you're settled in with a nice cocktail, because your curiosity is about to get the story you asked for :)  

A long time ago.... well, at least earlier this year, when we received the final production samples from the factory (before you backers got your spoons), they looked AMAZING, and for all we knew, they were made using the manufacturing method we requested - investment casting as one single piece. We placed the order. The factory experienced delays, much of it related to the metal warping during polishing, and then having to straighten them, and then polish again, in a seemingly endless cycle of revision and re-work. 

 One thing we've learned about working with Chinese manufacturers is that they are not very forthcoming with the challenges they might encounter during the manufacturing process. We've learned that their tendency is to try to solve the problem on their end, without involving the client (us) unless they feel it’s absolutely necessary, in the best way they know how. Sometimes, as we've discovered, that means the factory makes changes with the end-goal in mind, and may take liberties in balancing priorities. 

We found out about some of these changes when we received our order of spoons, and saw that some of them clearly exhibited signs that the spoons were not cast from a single mold, but were rather assembled, welded, and polished smooth. While this did essentially produce a seamless design when done correctly, it didn't follow the method that we had wanted, and the one that we had communicated to backers (namely, that it be cast as one piece using the investment casting method). 

 We were stuck in a hard place, because we’ve been perfectionists about these spoons since the beginning. Not to mention that these spoons were paid for, and we didn’t have the luxury of throwing them out and starting over. The factory provided us with a partial order (less than half) -- barely enough spoons to fulfill orders to Kickstarter Backers. We were already 9 months behind delivery schedule, and the second half of the order would take another 2-4 months to finish. The spoons were SO close to what we wanted. We were in no position to reject an order that met 95% of our requirements—they were the right size and shape, and they were beautifully polished. We also did strength tests on them, and DANG, they were strong. We were confident that even though we suspected the factory was fusing them together, rather than casting them as one piece from the beginning, they still met our original intention of being incredibly strong, and damn near unbreakable. 

 There were some that were too wavy from extensive polishing, and there were a few that had too much warpage around the neck where the handle meets the bowl of the spoon. We marked these as rejected, and picked the best of the order to send to backers. Fulfilling a Kickstarter is insane. I know our communication to backers suffered, and since we sent the spoons out, we haven’t posted much in the way of updates. We also wanted to try to solve the wavy and warping issues with the next round of spoons, so most of our communication during this time was directed intensely toward the factory. 

 We revised our Quality Assurance documents to reflect the manufacturing issues we were seeing in the rejected spoons. The factory said they would revise the mold to make sure the handles were straighter, and the transition point from spoon bowl to handle was smoother. They didn’t clarify whether this meant they would try to make that elusive single-cast spoon, but at this point, we were willing to concede that it might not be ideal, as cast parts need a great deal of polishing, and polishing on an item of such a small diameter produces a great deal of warpage, which was our new major issue, nearly impossible to correct. 

 We worked on this with the factory back and forth all summer, until the second half of the order went through Quality Assurance in September. Before the spoons left China, our QA team inspected every single spoon, and the attention to quality was obvious when we received the shipment in early October. The spoons are straighter than ever before, and even though we’ve clarified that they are not cast as one piece using the investment casting method, they are incredible, and as close to perfect as we could ask them to be. 

 So now here we are. It was about 5 months ago that we sent that first batch out to backers, and it was only in the last two weeks, when we received the second half of our shipment, that we’ve been able to evaluate the quality of the spoons and the progress we’ve made in perfecting them to the highest standard we know how to achieve. 

 With this recent new information, we have made sure to update the language on our website to ensure we aren’t misleading anyone as to the manufacturing method. The Aero spoon is still a seamless design, and really still a single piece of stainless steel. Rather than being cast from a mold as one piece, the manufacturer fuses several pieces together to make a single piece. It has seamless transitions, and is so strong we can bend it into a U shape with a vise and it doesn’t break. The Wingman is designed the same way, with the obvious multiple-piece design of the spinning handle.

We do still occasionally receive some spoons from the factory that show evidence of assembly – manufacturing defects like a bit of warping– and we try our best to cull these from our inventory so they don’t get passed on to customers. 

Since Kickstarter projects are frozen in time, we aren’t able to modify language on the project page that was written back when the project was live. But with this email, (which I’m going to turn into a Kickstarter update), we’re delivering the transparency of information we promised from the beginning. We are proud to share with backers the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes to continuously improve the tools we’re making.

---

So, Backers --- that's our current update with the intent to continue to keep you informed about this project, even after the Kickstarter fulfillment and campaign conclusion. Please continue to stay in touch; we love hearing from you!  

Cheers,

Rachel Eva & Shawn Michael

The Smelters are Smelting, the Workers are Casting, and our Factory is Back in Full Swing!

via Update #23 on Kickstarter

Thanks for being patient with us as we waited through the lunar new year celebration--it's over! 

Skip down to the next section if you just want the quick status update. For those of you that love the details, here's a little book report about what goes on behind-the-scenes with industries that rely on China for goods. We find it fascinating, and you might too!

What's the big deal with Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is a big deal.  It's a challenge for any supply chain anywhere in the world that works with China, and even has its own acronym (CNY).  Officially, it took place February 19 - 25, 2015, but anyone with experience manufacturing in China advises to conservatively plan forno production or shipments leaving China during the entire month of February, and for reduced output during the first half of March. The basic business impact is that nothing gets made or shipped, because workplaces shut down for a while, and start back up again slowly.

There's a huge human element to this which we've found fascinating. Most factory employees aren't from the big industrial meccas where they spend their working hours. They migrate to the industrial centers from all over rural China to find work and make a good wage.  For most of these workers, Chinese New Year is the only time during the year when they can travel back to their hometowns and spend time with their families.  We're glad they have this annual opportunity; as impatient as we may be to finish production, it's nice to know the workers are getting a break to rest and enjoy life with loved ones. The migration of workers out of China's cities is the largest annual migration of humans in the world.  A whopping 2.8 Billion trips are taken by China's 1.37 Billion citizens during the holiday, an outstanding 2 trips per capita.  Compare that to 0.14 trips per capita by US citizens during the Thanksgiving holiday.  It's an Exodus. (Source: Bloomberg)

But, back to business. As the holiday draws to a close, it's a very stressful time for factory owners. Some workers take extended time off, and don't return for another few weeks.  It's usually a slow start to get manufacturing back up to 100%.  For many factory owners, the question isn't "when will my workers return," it's "will my workers return?"  Some workers use the long break to seek other work, or make a career change.  It's possible that after the new year ends, a factory could be missing a large part of their labor force, and have to hire and train new workers quickly. 

Interested in reading more? Here are a few starting points:

Manufacturing Update

The good news for Standard Spoon is that our factory didn't have any significant challenges getting back up and running after Chinese New Year -- phew!  It did take a little time to get someone out to the factory to check on progress, but we spoke with our manufacturing coordinator last night and the news is good. The first run of each spoon (which was started before CNY) is back in progress at the investment casting factory. We have no manufacturing issues to report at this time (yes!). 

Estimates are that the casting will be finished by the end of this month, and then the spoons will go to the polishing factory.  Polishing and Quality Assurance will take up the first three weeks in April. Then they'll be flown over to us in San Diego for packaging, fulfillment, and shipment to you.

We decided a while ago that we'd be shipping via Air from China, which is more expensive but significantly reduces transportation time.  It's also a good call considering the significant delays taking place out of the Port of Long Beach.  We spoke with a friend who just received a shipment this week that had been sitting on the docks since December -- yikes!  

Air shipping and customs will still take 10-15 days, so it's looking like packaging will take place mid-May, and the first spoons will ship out to backers by the end of May. We'll be clearing our calendars for their arrival so that as soon as we get the shipment, we have one priority, and one priority only - getting them back in the mail!

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions here or on our Facebook Page, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@StandardSpoon) for more little tidbits throughout this process.

Cheers,

Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael

Standard Spoon Legit Bar Tools

Production Samples are Here!

Via Updates 20 & 21 on Kickstarter:

Happy New Year!

We are very happy indeed, as we received some beautiful production samples on Monday!  

Last month we posted that the factory was running into some issues with the way the end cap attached to the body of the Spin spoon.  They figured that out; problem solved.

Then we got the challenging news that polishing the spoons would cost just as much as manufacturing them (OUCH!). We discussed some options with our guy in China, and he was able to find us a secondary factory that could do the polishing for a much more reasonable cost. They will be cast at a factory that specializes in manufacturing, and polished at a factory that specializes in finishing. Problem Solved.

The production samples were shipped to us just after Christmas, and even though it took them a while to clear China (which is incredibly busy during the holidays), we got a knock on the door Monday morning from FedEx!

THEY ARE INCREDIBLE!

image.jpg

These are some great shots to show off the seamless, aerodynamic contours of the spoon bowls, both the back (above) and the front (below).  

image.jpg

The spoon bowl holds exactly 1/8 of an ounce (with the meniscus of the liquid).

image.jpg

And here are some great shots of the logo on the end of each spoon:

image.jpg
image.jpg

What happens next?

We had only a few minor pieces of feedback for the factory, such as the orientation of the logo on the end cap of the Spin (designer details).  This can easily be modified during the final production run, and (drum roll please) we are going to give the go-ahead for final production this week!

We are waiting to hear the final per-unit cost for each spoon, which will determine how large of a first production run we can make. It will also help us determine what the final retail cost of the spoons will be. 

Once the factory begins production, it takes about six weeks for them to be made, sent to the secondary factory, and polished. And, unfortunately and unavoidably, Chinese New Year falls right in the middle of our production schedule. The Chinese know how to celebrate, and they close down all industry for about three weeks in February.  So a six week timeline turns into a nine week timeline, and they'll likely be finished sometime mid to late March.

We'll have them shipped to us in San Diego via FedEx, which will be more expensive than overseas freight shipping, but will save us weeks of waiting on transit.  So it looks like our April will be spent packaging and shipping the final spoons to you.

Thanks, as always, for hanging in there with us and being our partners on this journey. 

Cheers,

Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael

Sneak Peak at Production Samples!

 

via Update #19 on Kickstarter

Hi Backers,

Here's a mini-update all the way from our factory in China: a first look at some sleek looking production samples!  

While these haven't yet been shipped to us for inspection and testing, we like what we're seeing so far. Notice specifically that infamous transition from the spoon bowl to the handle. It's smooth, it's solid, and it's a spitting image of our design!

Here's a shot of the end of the CLASSIC spoon with the Standard Spoon logo.  (Note that this hasn't been polished yet)

 We're still a long way from final approval, but these photos have us pretty optimistic.  We're discussing some of the finer points of assembly, polishing, and functionality with our team in China now, and the factory is doing some problem solving regarding the way the end-cap on the SPIN attaches to the body. 

When that's figured out, they'll make any needed adjustments, and ship the production samples to us.  We'll test them out, take some photos, and have more to report at that time.

Until then, 

Rachel Eva & Shawn Michael


Meet our Factory!

Via Update #18 on Kickstarter:

This week has been a momentous one for us, as we're finally over the hurdle of the second factory-finding phase.  We've contracted with a forging factory in Shenzhen, placed our first purchase order, paid for the tooling costs, and they started work on the tooling (molds) and production samples this week!

Here's a photo of one of the guys from our broker's team with the owner of the factory:


And here are some products that the factory has produced for other clients.  While these are not samples of our spoons, they give us an idea of what kind of work the factory produces. 

What's Next?

The sample process takes 20 days to complete.  One detail worth pointing out is that these are production samples - what the factory is sending us will be exactly what can be made from the molds for a production run. 

In our best case scenario, no changes will be needed, we'll approve the samples and move straight into production. In our worst case scenario, the samples will be missing some crucial element, and we'll have to re-tool and start the sample process over again.  We are working with our manufacturing coordinator (broker) to make sure that all of our design specifications are understood, and this is unlikely to happen, but it's always a possibility.

Ok, lets check in with the timeline for delivery. If we receive our samples by the end of November and give them our stamp of approval, the factory can begin production.  Production takes a minimum of 40 days, and then they'll need to be packed and shipped to us here in San Diego.  Then we pack and ship them to you. 

If you were planning on giving these as a Christmas gift, they will not be ready.  Realistically we're looking at February or March if everything goes smoothly, possibly later if we have any delays. 

Christmas Substitutes

We will be creating a downloadable gift card which you can print out and give in lieu of having the actual spoons to wrap up and place under the tree.  I know this is a much less gratifying substitute for the real thing, but it will help communicate the concept of the spoons to the recipient, and give you something tangible to give away.

Pre-Orders

For those of you that weren't aware, you may still place a Pre-Order or Add-On to your pledge via BackerKit.  We've extended the Pre-Order deadline until November 30th.  At the end of the month, we'll close down BackerKit so we can calculate our final count for manufacturing quantities.  Any funds added via BackerKit have not yet been charged to the card on file; they will be charged on November 30th (and we'll send a reminder email about that before BackerKit closes).

Thanks for hanging in there with us.  For more details about our manufacturing saga, check out this blog post HERE. 

Cheers,

Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael

A Summary Story (or Saga) on Finding a Manufacturer

 
Sometimes we've felt like this on our manufacturing journey.  Thanks B.C.

Sometimes we've felt like this on our manufacturing journey.  Thanks B.C.

 

I had a conversation this past week with someone unfamiliar with our project and progress over the last nine months, and it helped me step back from the frustrating details and remember some big-picture milestones.  I'd like to share that conversation with you, which helps summarize one essential segment of this project: Manufacturing.

We successfully funded the Kickstarter campaign with the support of all of our generous backers in February of this year. At the time we had a manufacturer lined up, as we had taken the time prior to the Kickstarter launch to find one we could work with.  That process is no easy task; the factory took us over 3 months to find. 

A factory that is a good match for this kind of project is not easy to locate; here's why:

  • First, our products are extremely unique, so there isn't an established industry standard manufacturing process for them. If we were out to make another tyvek wallet or iphone dock (or a multi-piece straight handled bar spoon), we could find a dozen factories that have made these items before, and are familiar with the process.  When you propose a product that hasn't been made using a specific manufacturing process, many factories aren't up for the challenge of problem solving and figuring out a new way of doing things.
  • Second, we're a really really little fish in a huge manufacturing economy. Typically factories like to see orders in the tens-of-thousands range.  If you can place an order for a hundred thousand units, you command a LOT of attention.  Things happen faster, there's more competition among factories, and it's a lot cheaper per unit. Because we didn't raise $50,000 or $150,000, we're placing the order we can afford, which is smaller and more difficult to market to factories. 
  • Third, the value of our spoons come from the quality and integrity with which they will be manufactured. Because we're unwilling to compromise on essential components such as a single-piece transition from the spoon bowl to the handle, our list of available factory options shrinks dramatically, because many simply don't do this type of work.  For the ones that do, quality and workmanship is another consideration that eliminates factories which value things like price, time, speed, and efficiency above the quality of the end product.

When we did locate our first factory, we felt comfortable launching our Kickstarter. We had some delays early in the year due to Chinese New Year and other national holidays, and received our first samples in June.  It was clear from the samples that they did not fully understand the design elements that were important to the products, even though they had created what looked like single-piece spoons.  We took the time to create 3D printed samples of the spoons, as it would be easier and more accurate to communicate our design expectations with physical models rather than digital measurements which require translation and text qualifiers. 

In early September the factory finally got back to us and informed us that they could not produce the spoons we designed.  We learned that even though the samples they sent were finished to look like one piece, they were in fact a composite construction.  The method they were using would not allow for many of the design considerations we requested.

This was devastating news for us, as we were already behind schedule.  Whatever semblance of a manufacturing schedule we had left was ruined.  What could we do but inform our backers, and keep moving forward? 

Thus began our second factory-finding phase.

We went through several candidates who seemed promising, but when it came time to get serious and place a purchase order, some of the details wouldn't match up, or our quantities wouldn't be high enough, or our broker had some concerns about some of the promises that were being made.  Unfortunately, we have to continue to go through the long process of exploring manufacturing competencies, communicating the plans of our products, getting feedback, considering compromises, and getting quotes from each factory until one works out in the end.  We run into a lot of dead ends, and it takes time.

That it only took us 2 months to find our second factory is good news.

As of this week, we've contracted with a factory, placed a purchase order, and are having production samples made!  Read more in today's Kickstarter Update for factory details and what's next.

 

The Long Hello

via Update #17 on Kickstarter

Our October has been packed with Standard Spoon business, and though I've been waiting for the final, signed, purchase-order-has-been-placed, no-turning back point to write an update, we're still not there yet.  

Process Update

You're with us on this journey, so here's a process update. Even though we are pushing as hard as we can to get to the point where we write a check and submit the purchase order, we're dealing with many different entities and the process is slower than anticipated.  In our last update, we were set back to the point of selecting a new manufacturer. The Forging manufacturer had a proposal that really was "too good to be true," and some concerns were raised about the Investment Casting manufacturer, both from a materials waste and cost perspective. 

We also ran into a week-long Chinese holiday, during which all business stops dead in its tracks.  We took advantage of this time to triple-check our design files, and draft a specifications document, which we'll use as a manufacturing contract to clearly communicate all of the final design decisions to the factory. 

We are now in communication with a second Forging manufacturer, and are reviewing final design elements with them to ensure they understand our specifications. They have experience working with cutlery, which is a bonus. 

The Long Hello

Shawn Michael and I have been dealing with some (ok, much) frustration regarding how long this process is taking, and when we'll finally get to meet our finished spoons.  We've made a commitment to you, our backers, to deliver a quality product, and gave you a delivery estimate that has long since expired. The extended timeline is discouraging for both of us, even though we know we owe it to you and to Standard Spoon to produce quality goods. 

During the last two weeks we traveled to Seattle and Portland to meet retailers, bartenders, and friends, and ended our trip at Portland Cocktail Week (PDXCW) - even meeting a few of you!  We sat in on some of the Innovation and Development classes, and spent time talking to people who've started distilleries, bitters companies, and bars.  One of the things that was very encouraging to hear (over and over again) is that things like this always, always, always take longer than expected.  

So thanks for hanging in there with us. This week we're back in the office, communicating with China, and being productive during the waiting periods. We'll keep you up to date here, but be sure to visit our Facebook page for frequent tidbits, and the Standard Spoon Blog for additional information and musings.

"Never, never, never give in!" - Winston Churchill

via Update #16 on Kickstarter

Hi Backers,

Thanks for being patient with us this last month as we've been working through the next stage of manufacturing. Our last update described how we were providing 3D printed models of each spoon to our factory so they could see exactly what design standard to manufacture the spoons to.

Manufacturing Update

Our manufacturing coordinator received the 3D printed spoons late August. After discussing the design with the factory who made our first metal samples, we found they cannot produce the spoons as designed.  Going to the lengths that we did to communicate clearly was a good thing, because we discovered that the factory wasn't planning on manufacturing the spoons as one piece.  Even though they would have been treated externally to look seamless, it would have been a composite construction, which is what we are trying to avoid. 

This was a bit of a blow for us, because it means we'll have to select a new factory to work with.  The good news is that we already have two fantastic options right now, and our next samples are being made now. Here's where we're at:

Option #1 - New Investment Casting Manufacturer.  This factory produces extremely high quality, detailed products.  We know that they can produce our spoons to a very high standard (and as one piece!).  The downside is that the cost per item is significantly higher than we had planned.  If we decide to go with this option, the final retail price of each spoon would certainly be higher than our Kickstarter price point.

Option #2 - Forging Manufacturer. This factory would produce the spoons using a different method called forging.  Forging is a bad-ass manufacturing method, and was actually one we looked in to extensively prior to launching our Kickstarter.  Forging produces extremely strong parts, but often requires extensive finishing and polishing, because it produces a rougher exterior surface than if casting were used. The first quotes we received from this factory are very reasonable, which would keep costs down.  However, the proposal has a bit of a "too good to be true" feel to it. 

We have dealt with dozens of factories over the last year as we've explored proposals, and have learned that many of them are eager to declare their capabilities in order to gain a chance at the business.  Once additional steps are taken toward manufacturing, however, sometimes they aren't quite as capable, or the price isn't as good as was promised (as we discovered with the last factory that sent us samples).  

Since the Forging Manufacturer indicates they can get samples finished in less than a week, we've decided to see what they can do.  If what they provide to us is high quality and cost effective, we'll place our order with them.  If, on the other hand, the deal is really "too good to be true," we're prepared to place our order with the Investment Casting Manufacturer immediately.

Either way, we're committed to getting production going ASAP.

Other Stuff

While we've been waiting for samples, shipping time, and proposals, we haven't been sitting on our duffs. Shawn Michael has been working on packaging design, we've been meeting and talking with potential retail partners, and working on the back-end of the business.  There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes from an administrative perspective, which is pretty boring stuff to talk about.  But things like financial plans, business licenses, taxes, branding, marketing plan, and future product development are essential to laying a good foundation for a legit business. We've been immersed in all of that, and a lot of other boring (and not so boring) business development activities.

We've also been preparing our fulfillment strategy, so when we have our hands on our spoons, we can get them out to you as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Looking Ahead

When our samples from the Forging Manufacturer are finished next week, we'll try to have them shipped quickly to us in San Diego for review, and will post another update as soon as we decide which direction we're going in.

Cheers,

Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael

Mini Update on Manufacturing

We've been having lots of conversations with our manufacturing coordinator recently. For those waiting for a Kickstarter update, it's coming soon!

Our 3D printed samples of the spoon were received by the factory in late August, and based on the design we've been discussing the best manufacturing methods going forward. 

Aside from manufacturing, we've been having discussions with bars and retailers about future sales opportunities; everyone seems pretty excited about both spoons!  We've also been working on packaging design, branding, and our fulfillment strategy.

In between that, there's a lot of waiting - waiting for samples to be made, waiting for shipping to China, waiting for quotes and factory correspondence...  so we've also been filling our time with a few other top secret (for now) sister projects. 

Standard Spoon remains our top priority; rest assured we are doing everything we can to keep the project moving forward efficiently!